Montana lawmakers are considering a new bill that would allow folks to take home deer, elk, antelope or moose that they accidently hit and kill with their vehicles. House Bill 247 is primarily sponsored by Steve Lavin (R-Kalispell).
The bill calls for the creation of a permit system. Peace officers, such as deputies and wardens, could hand out permits to folks who wish to claim a dead game animal that fits within the bill’s list of allowed animals.
Proponents of the bill say that it would help keep Montana’s highways clean, and help make sure meat doesn’t go to waste. Some have pointed to the time and money the bill would save for the Department of Transportation, as workers wouldn’t have to clean up the claimed road kill.
“The meat is actually better for you, probably, than the stuff you buy. If they’re going to want to take it home and do the work to clean it, they should definitely have that right to do that instead of letting it go to waste,” said Olney resident Becky Ryerson.
Opponents, however, fear that the law might encourage folks who would purposefully drive into animals they wish to take home for meat or their antlers.
“My thoughts are, are people going to abuse it by running over deer so they can have the meat?” said Allen Erickson, who heads the Northwest Montana Veteran’s Food Pantry. The Pantry uses road kill to help stock its fridge with meat products like deer sausage. FWP helps them out by giving them the heads up when salvageable game animals show up.
The head of FWP’s law enforcement division, Jim Kropp, recently spoke at a hearing on the bill, saying that could make it harder for wardens to figure out if poaching suspects actually get sets of antlers fair and square.
Lavin says FWP could print the permits, and the issuing of the permit would not be required.
The current version of the bill can be read here.